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Often when editing code, I'll select a block in visual mode and do a search and replace over the block. After I make the changes, however, it leaves visual mode. How do you do a new find and replace over the same selection?

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Well I found one way, but it's a little cumbersome: :'<,'>s/old/new/g Any way to do this w/o having to type in the '<,'> ? – labyrinth Dec 10 '10 at 17:14
up vote 131 down vote accepted

You may re-select the last selected visual area with gv.

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Awesome, thank you very much. – whitesiroi Sep 26 '15 at 17:56
Awesome! @Heptite how to find this command by myself w\o Stackoverflow? – skywinder Mar 1 at 9:16
@skywinder :help gv – Heptite Mar 1 at 12:20

gv is definitely the fastest method (use last selection), but if you want a stable saved selection region (or several), you can always create macros.

Lets say I want to store a selection of my current method, which goes from lines 25-35. I can create a macro that selects the whole method by typing

q    //start recording
a    //use register a
25G  //Go to line 25
V    //visual-line mode
35G  //Go to line 35
q    // stop recording

I can then get that selection back by typing @a (run macro in register a). Repeat with any register, lines, or sections of lines, that you wish. Obviously if you make changes to the file the selection may change as well, so you may want to consider using marks instead of "hardcoding" line numbers.

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zmto enter that you need to know the line numbers. I think its better to define two marks and then use :'a,'b to operate on the range between them (or replace ' with backticks if want granularity within a line) – sillyMunky Jan 16 '14 at 1:24
Yeah, the line numbers thing was dumb -- I just used it as an example for how to create a selection macro. Using a range of marks is an interesting idea though... – AlexMA Jun 25 '14 at 18:38

gv works great for recovering the last selection. But one sometimes needs a bit more.

If you ever needed more persistent record, have a look a this plugin we are currently working on on the GitHub.

VisualMarks allows you to save and restore visually selected areas just like you save and mark specific locations in your files with m. After installing, and with the default options, use:


in visual mode to save your current selection to mark a, then


in normal mode to get back to this selection.

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Wow, that sounds really cool. I'll have to give that plugin a try! By the way, can these VisualMarks persist with mkview like you can with marks? – labyrinth Oct 20 '15 at 17:43
@labyrinth I don't know mkview but.. I guess yes since marks are saved in a separate file and.. I suggest you try anyway :) If they don't persist like you wish, we'll be pleased to receive your feature request on GitHub and try'da process it. – Iago-lito Oct 20 '15 at 20:00

Suppose I wanted to replace Goodbye with Hello and the code below was selected:

public static void main(String[] args){
    System.out.println("Goodbye World");

I would type in :s/Goodbye/Hello/ and vim will replace all instances of Goodbye with Hello

It's simply a combination of vim's regular expressions and visual mode selections. When you select, it should autofill '<,'>

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Sorry, that's not what I was asking. What I'm asking is how do you reuse the selection to do another find and replace on the same range as selected before? – labyrinth Dec 10 '10 at 18:24
After replacing, you will get out of visual mode. type in gv and your visual mode will revert to the previous selection state. – Scott Nguyen Dec 10 '10 at 22:03

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